Did I just say Christmas? Yes, yes I did. You’re probably saying ‘TOO SOON SARAH’, and I get it, trust me. Summer has hardly even started, and I already want you to start thinking ahead to winter…gross! But that doesn’t mean I’m not right. Christmas can be hella expensive, but planning ahead can save you time, money and stress. So yes, we’re talking Christmas planning today folks.

I have been the person frantically running around the mall the week (the day) before Christmas attempting to grab some not terrible gifts. Usually, this happens because I was unprepared and didn’t have the money to spend. I love Christmas, like love it, but this is not the way to set yourself up for an enjoyable holiday season.


The last couple of years I have been way better about getting a jump on Christmas planning. It all comes down to starting early. I know, June might seem ridiculously early. It is. And I won’t be out there doing the bulk of my shopping until later in the year. But getting the jump on it now can save you a serious headache when the snow starts flying. Today I want to share with you how I keep Christmas at the back of mind throughout the year and how that helps me save time and money.

Start Saving

Even if you have nixed the gift-giving with your family, there are always expenses involved in celebrating Christmas. It could be hosting a big turkey dinner, travelling to visit family, putting up lights on your house, so you don’t look like Scrooge, or buying copious amounts of rum and eggnog to survive the holidays. Budgets are blown in December; it happens ALL the time.

How do you avoid that? You plan for it!

Many of us will keep separate savings accounts for a new car or an upcoming vacation, so why not do the same thing for Christmas? I’m a big fan of multiple savings accounts, and I do have one I use specifically for Christmas. Every month I have an automatic contribution go into that account so that I can reach for that instead of my credit cards when I start shopping. Well, I still use cards for the points, but I’m able to pay off the balances right away because I’ve got the money saved. It’s so much easier to come up with $50 a month than it is to come up with $600 in January.

Unique Gifts

Keeping Christmas on your mind year round can be a difference maker when it comes to the quality of gifts you buy. Maybe you’re heading off on a summer vacation to some exotic locale. Maybe that exotic locale specializes in silk scarves that your mom would love. Or hand-thrown pottery that would be a hit with your Grandma. Or wine…for everyone.

You don’t even need to be going on vacation to stumble upon something perfect. One of my Dad’s favourite Christmas gifts was a box-set of Clint Eastwood classics (he’s old school) that I grabbed at Costco in August. Good gifts seem to find you when you’re not looking for them; you just need to have gift-giving at the back of your mind.

Another great place to find a unique gift is your local farmer’s market. Markets are a lot more prevalent during the summer months (at least in areas that have winter to deal with). If you’re already there stocking up on local produce, then stop and take a local at the artisan booths as well. Something might catch your eye that would make a great gift. There are always markets specifically for Christmas, but they tend to be busier and often more expensive.

Better Deals

This especially applies to travel. If you’ve ever had to book a last-minute plane ticket to fly home for Christmas, you will understand how expensive that can be. Instead, keep an eye out on seat sales throughout the year so you can book at the lowest possible price. There’s even an app for that! It’s called Hopper, and it’s so helpful. You can set up a watchlist for flights, and they’ll keep you in the loop about price increases and decreases as well as info about historical pricing. If you fly, you should check it out.

Planning out gifts early also gives you time to monitor sale prices. If there’s a specific item, you’re looking at then maybe sign up for the company’s email list. Usually, I’m against promo emails, but they are an excellent way to score a deal on a gift. Just remember to unsubscribe once you’ve bought it.

Want more tips to save money on Christmas gifts? Check out this post

Maybe travel and gifts aren’t the budget busters this year, but Christmas decorations will be. The best time to buy lights, trees, ornaments, etc. is right after Christmas. A little late for this year but hit up Canadian Tire the week after Christmas and you’ll be able to stock up for half price. Also, the dollar store. I own more than a few dollar store holiday items. You don’t need to splurge on something that spends eleven months of the year in a plastic bin in your basement.

Less Stress

There are very few things that feel better than waking up on December first and knowing your Christmas shopping is done. People will hate you, but you will be floating with a sense of accomplishment. Sure, you might still have to survive the hell that is hosting Christmas dinner, but you won’t have to go the mall in December. Take that win savour it!

Not having to stress about gift list and finding the time to shop is huge. It means you can do the things you actually enjoy about Christmas. Maybe you can have a Christmas movie marathon, or tour the best-decorated houses in your city, or see the Nutcracker. I love Christmas, and it’s because of all that stuff…not the prep.

If you follow the year-round savings plan we talked about above, you’ll also avoid much of the money stress that comes with Christmas. It’s easier to say no to a bad deal on the perfect gift in October than it is in December. Getting better deals combined with already having the money saved up will make budgeting a breeze, and you won’t be afraid of checking your credit card statements in the New Year.


Thinking about Christmas in the middle of summer might sound like the worst idea ever, but it can do wonders for your December self. It gives you time to search out the best deals, find gifts people will appreciate and save up the money to spend guilt-free. Be the person everyone else is jealous of in December and get started on your Christmas planning now!

Tell me about your Christmas style? Do you put off everything until the last possible minute or are you a pre-planner? 

Starting to think about Christmas early can save you time, money, and stress when December rolls around!

This post was proofread by Grammarly.

Image Credit: Thomas Kelley


  1. We started planning for Christmas back in January when we started using YNAB. Using what we spent on gifts last year as an example, we set a goal for November or December of this year for that same amount. So we’ve been setting aside small bits every month all year and it’s starting to add up. We’ve also been setting aside the money for Christmas cards! I like to order them with Black Friday sales. We do the same with wedding gifts – as soon as we get a save the date, we adjust the wedding gifts goal. That one is funded almost as much each month as our Christmas goal, for example!

  2. I wanted to add that I also have the cost of our 2019 Christmas trip on the radar of our travel budget. We haven’t started funding it yet, but we will at some point and it’s good to have the goal $ there even if we aren’t funding it so YNAB reminds us it’s yellow every time we don’t add money to it.

    • Sarah Reply

      I love how organized you guys are! Being prepared and not having to stress about coming up with the money makes the event so much more enjoyable.

  3. Ugh…every year I say I am going to be better the next year – and every year, I am at the mall on December 23rd settling on some stupid gift for someone…

    There are even multiple times each year I think to myself “Oh man, that would be a great Christmas gift for someone”, but by the time December comes around, I’ve already forgotten what it was..DOH.

    Maybe this will be the year for me…(doubt it though)

    • Sarah Reply

      This will be the year! In that I’ll hassle you about Christmas presents every month until December.

  4. This is such a great idea. Last year I had all of my Christmas shopping done by December 1st and it was the first time in years that I actually got to enjoy the holiday season. I was able to wrap(which I oddly love to do) while watching Christmas movies. In the past I was doing the mad wrapping job on Christmas Eve and not actually enjoying the company of family.

    Last year we started in September and set a budget as well as any ideas we had in mind for individuals and went from there.

    This year I have already started purchasing some gifts. This doesn’t always happen, but while we were on vacation, we found some really interesting items that were perfect for certain people in our family. Check 3 people off the list, and the gifts have already been paid for out of our budget.

    One idea that we have stated to adapt is providing the “experience” gift. Instead of another sweater for your mother-in-law, get her a gift certificate for a pottery class or a lunch and boat cruise. And better yet, join that person in the experience!

    • Sarah Reply

      You are on it, that’s awesome! I love gifting experiences too. We’ve done that for both sets of parents too and it usually goes over really well. Usually it’s for a concert but I love the idea of a pottery class.

  5. It is true planning early is the best way to save money. It is possible to get the stuff at the lowest price but you will find many websites that offer giveaways during or before Christmas. Afterall we all love free stuff.

Write A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.